7 essential rules to know & share; visiting newborn babies at home
April 26, 2018
When my beautiful best friend was pregnant with both of her babies, I was so excited that I could have burst. It’s because of that, and my inexplicable pestering, that I’m writing this post, from my own experiences – so please, keep that in mind.
In hindsight, it would have been really helpful to me to have this set of rules for visiting my best friend after she had her wonderful babies, as I had no clue on ‘newborn etiquette’, or what the new mummy and daddy might be feeling as I bombarded them with visits. I’m the kind of person who, when you get close to, is at danger of becoming so dedicated to a friendship that it could be considered rather annoying. What can I say? I have a lot of love to give, and if I think you deserve to have it, you’d better well take it, because I won’t stop. EVER. (I know that sounds really creepy. I promise I’m not).
So, in this blog post, I’m going to share what I think are the 7 essential rules to know AND share (here’s looking at you, new mummy and daddy!) when a new arrival is in town!
We are all aware of how exciting the impending arrival of a new baby is – it’s been building up since you found out that your family member or friend announced to you that they were expecting. I mean, come on, they’ve been pregnant for about nine months, and you’ve been waiting to meet this little person for, what seems like, an eternity.
You’ve been there, purchasing little bits along the way, supporting, shopping, looking at endless lists of moses baskets, highchairs, prams, carriers and more, waiting, wishing, and then, as if by some miracle, you get the phone call to say that they have arrived…
All of the patient (and not so patient) waiting is over, and FINALLY this little tiny bundle of joy has arrived! The excitement is almost too much to handle, and you find yourself practically begging at the newly crowned parent’s feet for something to do for them, without stopping to think about what they have just gone through, because you’re too selfish to wait until full recovery has been achieved and are desperate to meet the wonderful human being that they have created. They are your favourite people, and they’ve made a new favourite person for you to love for eternity too! Bringing a child into the world is the most amazing thing that anyone can do, so it’s only natural that you want to express your excitement, and meet the baby as soon as possible.
However, there are some things that genuinely take time, and getting used to having a new tiny little person to be entirely responsible for is something incredibly personal to each and every single person out there. Some people are quite happy for immediate visits, whilst some like to take the time to get used to a new routine. Some people can take months before they actually feel up to letting people come in to their home and ogle over the new addition. Luckily for me, my best friend has had years of experience in handling my overbearing excitement, and my husband is my number one ‘filter’, who helps me to sit back, and re-adjust whether I’m becoming overbearing.
So when the moment comes that you are able to visit the baby, it’s really important to learn some new rules of respect. In 2015, a Facebook post was written by Tina Madelina, a certified labour and birth doula that outlined some simple, yet incredibly essential do’s and don’ts for visitors should try to stick to when they’re finally invited to meet the newborn baby, and is written from the newborn’s perspective. It has since done the rounds, and become a bit of a viral favourite on Facebook – and I so wish I had seen it before I threw myself at my poor best friend after she had both of her beauties. The post has been shared over a whopping 120,000 times, and has had over 80,000 reactions.
It’s so, so important that we give new parents the space to breathe – but the most important thing is, once you’ve been invited into their family space, that you obey some simple rules. Are you ready to take this in, hear it, and pass it on to whomever else may find it useful? Here we go:
1 – Kissing and touching.
Those gorgeous new little faces may seem like kissable little bundles of love, but approach with caution when you go face first into someone’s precious newborn baby…
“Do not kiss me, anywhere, at any time, no matter how delicious I look. In fact, do not put your face anywhere near my face or my hands and make sure you wash your hands before touching me anywhere”
When my best friend’s first baby (Minnie – she’s three now, and the most powerful little lady I have ever had the pleasure to meet) was born, she spent some time in the hospital after arriving earlier than expected. I can remember how important it was that we made sure that, when we did finally get to meet her, we made sure we were clean, our hands were washed, and we made sure as to try not to pass on too many germs. But this applies to all newborns in some respect. Their tiny little bodies are not yet used to all of the nasty germs that our bodies have become acclimatised to, and there are a myriad of extra things on us that could become difficult for such a little person to deal with.
2 – Leave me as I am.
“If my parents hand me to you in a baby carrier, use it. Do not take me out of the carrier under any circumstance. My friends and I tend to be sensitive to your clothes, detergent, excessive perfumes/colognes, so just keep me in my carrier and I'll play nice”.
I know – because I’ve been there. It’s difficult not to want to pick a baby up out of it’s moses basket, carrier, or swing when all you want to do is give a great big welcoming hug to them. However, parents know best, and going against their wishes shows a complete sign of disrespect. Also, us adults (here’s looking at you, hubby) wear WAY too much perfume for a little tiny new nose and skin to handle.
3 – Leave your own offspring behind.
“I'm sure your children in particular are the healthiest children in the world, but, let me put it this way - it's not you, it's me. I am born a germaphobe and it may take me a couple of months to adjust to this yucky world. And don't ask mommy and daddy if you can bring your kids anyway - they really don't enjoy saying no”.
This one’s a little bit like when you get a wedding invitation that says ‘no children please’. It isn’t there to cause offence, and it’s not because your children are tiny little terrors that spoil everything – it’s just a polite notice that it may not be the best place to take a child for any particular reason.
When both my best friend’s children were born, the first thing my step-daughter Izzy asked was ‘Della, when can I go and meet them?’. Whilst it may feel harsh saying it to them, newborn babies could really do without the germs that other children (particularly nursery-aged and up) carry and come into contact with on a daily basis. There will be plenty of other opportunities for your children to meet the new addition, and they’ll more than likely be growing up together anyway, so find a nice way of explaining that to your kids and they’ll be fine.
As for asking if your child can be the exception to the rule, don’t do it. I know that my best friend wouldn’t have had the heart to say no to us, had we asked that Izzy could come, so we just assumed, (and even now still do when she has a sniffle), that it wasn’t quite the right time to bring her with us.
4 – Know when to hand me back.
“If I start crying when I'm with you, please give me back to mommy. I get you want to soothe me and be a superhero for doing it but I really just want my mommy and daddy”.
Having never really been around any babies, the only experience I had with children was when I met my, now nine year old, step daughter at the age of two. When I first held both Minnie and Ronnie (Minnie’s hilarious younger brother, who has the sweetest mannerisms you’ve ever known), I will be the first to admit that I was completely terrified that they would cry, and I would have no idea how to help calm them back down. The inevitable happened, on more than one occasion, and I wondered instantly if it was me who upset them. In reality, that cry is almost always your cue to hand them back to the only person they are yet to become accustomed to – their parent. Moral of the story? You aren’t the baby’s parent, so stop being so self-absorbed! You haven’t upset them, they just know that they want either food, changing, or comfort from what they are used to, and that’s not you.
5 – I’m a brand new 24/7 job, so know when to leave.
“I get hungry, sleepy, poopy, and fussy around the clock. If you want to visit me, plan to come for less than an hour so mommy and daddy can get back to giving me their undivided attention instead of hosting you! Also, don't plan on eating here (my mom barely eats, she doesn't have time to feed you) or staying over unless you want to listen to my high pitched audition for the best Opera singer in town - practice time is always in the middle of the night!”
So with this one, we go back to that selfish part of excitement, where you’re so besotted with the new addition that you, consciously or subconciosly, outstay your welcome. Having a baby will have completely sapped the social abilities out of any new parent, so turning up and expected to be waited on, hand and foot, as the story used to go, is not going to happen. If it does, understand that that is a huge compliment to you, because the parent you’re visiting is more than likely to be running on nothing but adrenaline and air.
Instead, aim to keep your visits brief. Stay for an hour at max, unless the new parent has requested that you stay longer – looking after a new life is incredibly tiring, and you’ll be surprised at how much pressure it is having you around to entertain too.
6 – You’re going to get dirty.
“It's just spit up, relax yourself. Listen, you wanted to hold me, burp me, swaddle me, soothe me (see above), so now deal with it. Like I said, this is what I do - AROUND THE CLOCK!”
Now this point is one that I have never had an issue with, but for my OCD husband who is slightly out of touch with babies, it was a (hilarious from where I was sitting) shock, to say the least, when that sweet first cuddle turned into a puddle of puke. There’s not much more to add to this one – get over it, love.
7 – Don’t be selfish and expect to be the focus...
“Please don't expect my Mommy to call you, text or post a million photos on FB. She's taking good care of me and would rather stare at my sweet face than her phone”.
As I mentioned above, I’m an ‘all or nothing’ kind of person. I can remember getting upset every time a text would go unanswered, thinking I had done something terrible to upset my friend, and get myself into an incredible tizzy. This is where the husband comes back into it – and I’ll never forget how ashamed I felt once I’d drilled down into the meaning behind my feelings – I was being whole-heartedly selfish. I wanted to be the most important person to her at that very moment in time, and was getting upset because I wasn’t. It was childish and silly, but I did it, and know from experience that so many others have done it too. There was nothing else to it other than pure selfishness.
Once you realise your friend/family member has just done one of the most important things that they will ever do in their lives, you’ll see sense too. They brought a new human being into this world, one that depends on them for every.little.thing, and will continue to do so for at least 16 years. They’ve decided to share their body with someone new. They’ve brought a new person into the world, and at this moment in time, their whole life has changed in an instant. They don’t have time to send you a text about what they ate for tea, because the reality is that they haven’t had chance to eat anything at all, haven’t had a chance to go to the toilet, brush their hair, shower, poo, sit down – you know, all of those normal things that they used to be able to do. Their phone isn’t their number one priority, is it? In fact, the likelihood is that they don’t even know where their phone is at any given moment.
What IS priority is the tiny little new life that they are now responsible for – so be patient. They haven’t instantly forgotten you. You’ll be called upon for numerous reasons once they’ve got into the swing of things, but right now, just exist in the moment for them – they’ll appreciate you for it.
I hope that this has helped some of you, and urge that you share this with your friends or any mummy or daddy-to-be’s that you know of, so that they can share the rules too, before the time comes to have to put up with pushy, excited, selfish family and friends – I promise we don’t mean it, we just love you!
I personally look forward to *hopefully* hearing some of your stories on our Facebook and Instagram pages – if you have any ‘pushy visitor’ stories, please do share them with us!
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